The fiction that the E&N is an “active” railway is a huge impediment to a variety of active transportation plans in communities up and down the Island. At a meeting in Qualicum Beach on January 31 an Age-Friendly Transportation Plan was presented. This plan highlights the onerous barriers to pedestrian and cyclist movement on trails across and near the tracks. For example, one simple crossing of the tracks at one intersection would cost an additional $250,000 to satisfy the required signals and barriers. Multiply this by the number of crossings along the tracks and you can see why these trails are being deferred by municipalities until the “active” status is changed.
Other municipalities along the corridor are reviewing Master Transportation Plans. The potential for the E&N corridor to be a key, safe north-south trail link for a variety of users is significant. It is time for citizens to demand this “active” railway that has not been used for more than 12 years be decommissioned so that it can be put to a much more beneficial use, with a multiplying effect on trail networks in those communities.